Tips for first time and aspiring dog owners
First things first. Congratulations on your new pup! With your new addition to the family, you are embarking on an extremely joyful and rewarding relationship. For first-time dog owners, the prospect of finally bringing your pet home is exciting but can seem overwhelming when it’s all completely new. If that is you then you’ve come to the right place. Bringing home a new puppy is a big deal. While these adorable creatures know how to pull just the right strings and win over your heart in an instant there is a lot to consider, learn and prepare before introducing one to your family. A dog is wholly dependent on you to ensure they’re healthy and happy their entire lives.
Be open and honest about your situation
According to the SPCA around 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year. Another 670.000 dogs are euthanized.
Having these numbers in mind makes it all the more important to ask the right questions before getting a new pup. Always be sure that you are in a good position to be getting a dog. And the best way to figure that out is by asking the right questions.
The first step of getting a dog is to make sure you can handle all the responsibilities. Do you have the time do train your dog? Do you have the nerves to be potty training your pet? You should also be budgeting the amount of money you are probably going to spend on food, toys, health care, and grooming. There is a lot to consider.
These are the main questions you should ask yourself:
- Do you have other pets in the house that will need to adjust to the new member?
- Is your residence suitable for a dog?
- What breed is the best fit for your lifestyle and residence?
- Do you have enough time to take care of your dog? How or who will provide care for your dog during work time?
- Do you have a plan for your pet during vacations?
- Are you or anyone else in the house intolerant of hair, dirt or other realities of sharing your home with a dog?
- Who will ultimately be responsible for the wellbeing of the pet?
- Are you financially equipped to provide for your dog?
According to a recent study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) below are the main reasons why dogs are given up:
Keep these numbers in mind and always make sure to ask yourself the right questions. In most cases, a relinquishment could have been avoided by thoroughly evaluating one's life situation.
Research and ask friends
Before getting a dog, you will need to figure out if you want a puppy or an older dog. It is also important to understand what breed of dog would suit your lifestyle best.
Puppies are cute, no doubt! They do however need plenty of attention and energy. If you are someone who does not have the time nor patience to train an active puppy and do not feel like cleaning up after little “oopsies” while house-house training your puppy, then you should consider adopting an older dog.
An older dog is less likely to need as much attention as a puppy, but it might have habits or traits that will require training. The good news is most adult dogs come housetrained and if they are a senior dog their energy levels are probably lower. If you're adopting a dog from someone, take the chance and ask them about the dog's personality and the things they like. Ask about how they react to certain types of people or if they have specific problems that require correction.
Besides the dog's age, you should figure out what breed you would like to get. Each breed has its own rewards and challenges. Solely basing your decision on the looks is surely the wrong way as the personality of the dog is a much more important factor for long-term friendship.
Consider fostering before adopting
Fostering a dog can be a great way to determine if you are up for the challenge and commitment. Approach your local shelter to find out if they offer this option and what any further steps are if you want to permanently adopt the dog.
Prepping your home for the new family member.
Now that you have made the choice to introduce a dog to your family there are a few basic steps you will need to follow to look after your pup.
This step is almost the same as baby-proofing. Puppies love to explore and chew whatever crosses their path. Be sure that the area your pup can explore is safe. It might be a good idea to allocate a specific area in your house where it can’t get hut or cause too much damage.
You should never leave your puppy unsupervised if it has access to the entire house. Start with training as soon as possible as it will make your life with your new house-mate much easier.
- Are all electrical cords hidden and out of reach?
- Are cabinets locked? Especially the ones containing food or medication, cleaning and household items that might be dangerous.
- Keep houseplants up high so your dog cannot chew on them.
- Keep laundry, shoes and other small items out of reach. Puppies will often chew on and then swallow them.
- Get a trash can that has a lockable lid or consider relocating the bin to a room out of your dog's reach.
Make the key purchases
Buying the right supplies is a huge step in prepping your home for your dog. It is best to get all supplies before your pup gets home so you don’t have to be worried about not having what is needed.
- Dog food
- Bedding and crate
- Food and water bowls
- Package of disposable doggy waste bags
- Collar and ID tag
- Doggy shampoo
- Nail clippers
- Canine toothbrush
- Brush or comb (depending on coat length)
- Non-toxic cleanser
- Odor neutralizer
Prepare your car
After purchasing all the supplies and puppy-proofing your house it is time to prepare for the big ride home. Your car might seem like an afterthought but it is a very important factor to consider. Depending on the size of the dog you will either want a dedicated pet car seat or allow them to sit on the seat. If you go for the latter you will want a special harness that you can loop the seatbelt through to keep your dog safe and steady while you are driving. If you want to preserve your seats you are best advises do to invest in a pet seat cover . Just like your home you should remove any potentially hazardous items and remove anything you do not want to be chewed up. If you can then bring at least one more person with you who can keep an eye on your dog and attend to it when necessary.
Feed your puppy properly
The first year of your pup's life is most critical. Its teeth, muscles, bones, and fur will be growing rapidly and requires more daily calories than a mature dog. Besides the right amount of food, proper nutrition entails a well-balanced diet. Carefully read product labels to ensure your puppy digests the correct balance of carbs, fat, and protein for optimal development. Don’t feed your puppy any leftovers, bones or big snack between meals. Stick to the recommended serving size and feeding schedule.
Train your dog
As mentioned before training should begin right away. Puppies benefit from training early on. In the early stages of development, your pups will soak up demands and behaviors like a sponge. Make use of this opportunity and pave the way for a great friendship.
Dogs love affirmation and attention. Reward your puppy with praise and small bite-sized treat for good behavior. House training can be tricky and stressful but the secret to success is consistency. The more fuss you makeover your puppy doing something right the more responsive it will be. Remember that. For some people, potty training is the most important first step and probably the most frustrating. The most efficient way to potty train a pup is to know when it needs to go. But you are no mind reader you say? Well, in the beginning, your puppy will need a bathroom-break around 20minutes after eating or drinking. Guide your puppy to the spot where you want it to go and use a command such as “potty time”. Wait for your pup to do its job and remember to offer plenty of praise after. Do this a few times and your dog will catch up and you are good to go.
Raise your puppy correctly – checklist:
Establish a healthy diet
Begin house training straight away. Be understanding as this may take many weeks
Start obedience training at home and ease into it. Don’t rush or be too strict; let your puppy be a puppy
Establish an exercise routine
Keep up with vaccination schedules and routine medical checks
Socialize your puppy. Go out and explore lots of different places. This way it will be exposed to different sights, sounds, people and pets that are new and can familiarize.
Sign up for training classes if you can.
Visit the Veterinarian Regularly
An important aspect of a responsible dog owner is to include regular checkups with a vet. In the first few weeks, a puppy will require several rounds of vaccines. Always get them done to ensure keeping it from getting sick.
Be patient and loving
Your puppy is new to this world and has lots to learn. Even with the best training, you will need to clean up a few “oopsies” every now and then or have to replace a pair of your favorite shoes. Dogs need lots of attention if they don’t get it, they can become very challenging to manage. Go into training aware of this. Exercise lots of patience and know that with proper love and care your dog will grow into a perfect companion - all the hard work will pay off.